Today, I come humbly to this place, on behalf of Canadian Baptist Ministries. Before we seek to Reset the Relationship, as this conference is named, and before I speak on behalf of our churches, allow me to apologize before God and to you, our Indigenous brothers and sisters, both personally and collectively. I am mindful that I cannot apologize for others’ acts without admitting my own shortcomings. As a community of God’s people, we admit that too often we have not been or done what we could or should have to live and act justly. To you, our neighbours, our sisters and brothers who have been hurt, directly or indirectly by our actions and inaction, we ask your forgiveness.
Canadian Baptists have heard the pain and hurt inflicted upon our country’s Indigenous peoples. We acknowledge the deep wounds that persist as a consequence of our shared history. As a Church body, our early roots were in a white, Colonial past, from both Europe and America. Attitudes and acts of arrogance, entitlement and greed compelled many who settled here in Canada to assume ownership of lands that were not theirs to take, to occupy territories that were unceded and to formulate and sign treaties which were tilted in their own favour. The trust and goodwill of our Indigenous peoples were further abused when we failed to honour the treaties.
Many of our own church roots emerged from the Anabaptist tradition in Europe. Our forefathers suffered forms of persecution and exclusion in Europe, yet we acted in a similar manner here. We went from being excluded to being the excluders, from the oppressed to the oppressors. We failed to learn from our past and fully embrace the “other” when we arrived here, despite the hospitality that was extended to us. Continue reading